Pregnancy was Avoided

The topic of word aversion has been covered here and here. It seems some people avoid using certain words because those certain words send chills up and down their spines; words like “moist” or “tin.”

That got me to thinking about a television show called I Love Lucy. During the 1950s when the show aired, the show’s star, Lucille Ball, became pregnant. The network that aired it, CBS, forbade the use of the word “pregnant” on the show to describe Ms. Ball’s condition. Instead, the word “expecting” was used.

After doing some searches on the internet, I found a couple of reasons here and here of why the word “pregnant” was not allowed to be used.

Due to the “sensitivity to the questionable language, CBS consulted a minister, a rabbi, and a priest to find a way to present Lucy’s pregnancy in an unoffensive manner.” It appears that pregnancy was a forbidden topic due to the Hays Code, which was “the set of industry censorship guidelines which governed the production of the vast majority of United States motion pictures released by major studios from 1930 to 1968.”

Was CBS’s decision disallowing the use of the word “pregnant” an issue of word aversion, word censorship or both? It’s interesting that the show was still able to convey the same meaning for “pregnant” by using a “less offensive” word.

We certainly have come a long way since the 1950s even though networks are leery of allowing the word “vagina” to be used in, of all things, a tampon commercial.

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